Page 44 - Discover South Mississippi - Winter, 2024
P. 44

   story by Victoria Snyder
photos courtesy of Ingalls Shipbuilding and Keesler Air Force Base
It’s likely that you’ve heard of Ingalls Shipbuilding, or Keesler Air Force Base. But did you know their histories, and much of the history of the growth of the Gulf Coast, is tied to World War II? Recently, Pascagoula was designated an American World War II Heritage City by the National
Park Service. There can only be one Heritage City in each state, and Pascagoula was bestowed this honor. Jurisdictions must meet requirements to be eligible for this recognition. The honorific is meant to acknowledge the significance of the nation’s involvement in WWII. Currently, Pascagoula is one of 19 communities in the country that have received this distinction.
The criteria include things like adaptations
to wartime survival, presence of Armed Forces installations, the establishment of memorials, ceremonies of wartime event anniversaries,
and more. The National Park Service wants to make sure that the city participated in wartime efforts and is commemorating the legacy of those contributions.
Pascagoula’s application outlines the great lengths the city and its inhabitants went to before and during the war to support the United States. The small fishing and boatbuilding town with a population less than 4,000 turned into a city with
nearly 38,000 people that dominated industries. Before the United States even entered the war,
Pascagoula was aiding in war efforts. In 1938, Ingalls Shipbuilding (at the time Ingalls Iron Works) began quickly building barges. Since then, Pascagoula has remained a global leader in shipbuilding. The shipyard built around 90 ships to aid in the war – not just for the United States, but also for the British Royal Navy.
Workers poured into the town and new housing had to be built. The Navy helped to build these new residences, and these “Navy Houses” are now a designated historical landmark.

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